Synopses & Reviews
A bestselling sensation when it was first published by Viking in 1978, A Woman of Independent Means
has delighted millions of readers and was the inspiration for the television miniseries starring Sally Field.
At the turn of the century, a time when women had few choices, Bess Steed Garner inherits a legacynot only of wealth but of determination and desire, making her truly a woman of independent means. From the early 1900s through the 1960s, we accompany Bess as she endures life's trials and triumphs with unfailing courage and indomitable spirit: the sacrifices love sometimes requires of the heart, the flaws and rewards of marriage, the often-tested bond between mother and child, and the will to defy a society that demands conformity. Now, with this beautiful trade paperback edition, Penguin will introduce a new generation of readers to this richly woven story. . .and to Bess Steed Garner, a woman for all ages.
"A Woman of Independent Means reads like the flip-side of Pamela. Hailey's recent novel is, however, the flip-side that nobody plays. Had Richardson's imagination not been sparked by the model letters he wrote for young ladies, he might have written a novel as flat and foolish as this. The heroine, Bess Steed Garner, is intended, it seems, as a prototypical liberated woman with a flair for life. But her specious freedom is a historical cliche. How admirable to invite one's colored maid to the Shakespeare Society—she must, of course, sit in the, back and prepare refreshments. Or to toast one's husband with champagne—at his funeral. Bess enjoys driving her automobile in 1917, being one of the first female voters in 1920, and writing a condolence letter to Jackie O.in 1963.Our social-climbing heroine is the sole narrator of this plodding, plotless epistolary epic. There are hints that the unscrupulous, materialistic, and manipulative lady is despised by all who know her, yet, Hailey is so clumsy a writer that this possibility for drama is never more than a suspicion, apparently not intended by the author. Somehow I doubt a Clarissa will follow." Reviewed by Daniel Weiss, Virginia Quarterly Review (Copyright 2006 Virginia Quarterly Review)
On the 20th anniversary of this beloved novel--"a portrait of a woman with all her frailties" ("The Christian Science Monitor")--comes the first-ever trade paperback edition--just in time for Mother's Day. Features a new Letter to the Reader.
About the Author
Inspired by her grandmother's life, Elizabeth Forsythe Hailey wrote A Woman of Independent Means for her daughters, Brooke and Kendall. Since its publication, Hailey has had the pleasure of seeing Brooke make her TV acting debut in the miniseries, portraying the eldest grandchild, as well as the publication of Kendall's first book. The author of Home Free, Life Sentences, and Joanna's Husband and David's Wife, Hailey lives in Studio City, California.